With the clip at which Urban Meyer has been recruiting, freshmen at Ohio State are getting the chance to play more and more as a plethora of Buckeyes are off to the NFL after just three seasons.
Last year, the Buckeyes played numerous true freshmen including Demario McCall, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor and Michael Jordan to name a few. Entering the 2017 season, it appears the new recruiting class will have a similar impact to the 2016 class with some getting a chance at playing time, while others will likely redshirt.
- J.K. Dobbins - RB - The amount of hype surrounding Dobbins in spring and into fall camp appears to be warranted, as Meyer once again said Monday that the freshman out of La Grange, Texas will play in the season opener against Indiana. Dobbins jumped over Antonio Williams on the depth chart in spring practice and is the clear No. 2 running back behind Mike Weber after Demario McCall switched to H-back in fall camp. Should Weber prove to not be 100 percent to start the season, Dobbins could very well get some meaningful carries at the front end of Ohio State's schedule.
- Chase Young - DE - If Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes had declared to leave early for the NFL Draft following the 2016 season, there is a chance Young could be competing for a starting spot. However, Young is buried behind some of the best defensive ends in the country, yet is expected to somehow fit into the rotation along the defensive front once the season starts. Young will still have to battle with sophomores Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper however to get onto the field.
- Jeff Okudah / Shaun Wade - CB - I am listing Okudah and Wade in the same breath because they are competing for the same spot. With Denzel Ward, Kendall Sheffield and Damon Arnette likely to rotate at corner for most of the season, Okudah and Wade are battling for time as the nickelback on third and long situations. Both were highly recruited out of high school and were the first names out of cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs' mouth when he was asked about the fourth corner on his depth chart. The player who loses the battle to be the nickelback will fall into the next category.
- Baron Browning - LB - Browning missed most of spring practice with a shoulder injury that required surgery. That said, he is competing with Tuf Borland and Justin Hilliard to be the backup to Chris Worley at middle linebacker. While he is the most inexperienced of those three, he might also have the highest ceiling. Regardless of if he wins the backup role, Browning will likely see the field in mop-up duty or special teams if he is healthy.
- Thayer Munford - OT - Munford wasn't the most highly recruited offensive lineman in his class, but because of his position, he might have the best opportunity to play. Ohio State is extremely deep at guard, but the depth at tackle has thinned after Evan Lisle and Kyle Trout left the program. If Branden Bowen wins the right guard job, that could open the door for Munford to be the Buckeye's backup tackle to both Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince. To earn that spot, his primary competition would likely be Kevin Feder or Malcolm Pridgeon.
- Blake Haubeil - K - That's right, a kicker has made the list. Meyer said Monday that while veteran Sean Nuernberger has a slight edge in the battle to be Ohio State's starting kicker, Haubeil has also impressed. Even if Haubeil loses the job, recent history shows that the backup kicker for Ohio State could be called upon to make some big kicks. In 2009, starter Aaron Pettrey suffered an injury that thrust Devin Barclay onto the scene. Last season, Nuernberger suffered an injury in fall camp that opened the door for Tyler Durbin to ultimately win the job.
With Ohio State, it is almost impossible to predict which rookies will play in their first year on campus. Injuries, suspensions and other unforeseen circumstances can come up at any time, forcing young players into action.
Other freshmen that just missed this list include offensive linemen Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis, linebacker Pete Werner, and wide receivers Jaylen Harris and Trevon Grimes.